Communication networks exist for one simple reason: to deliver a service or application to an end-user. All of the routers, firewalls, switches, etc. that exist within a network are built and deployed with this goal in mind.
Currently, if a network operator wants to add, make changes to, or monitor a service, they must go through the manual process of managing and configuring potentially thousands of devices in the network.
What if there was a way to use automation to change the way networks are controlled? Imagine the amount of time and money that could be saved if networks could be managed on a macro-level with speed and simplicity?
Intent-based networking promises all of those things.
So, what is intent-based networking? It’s the next big thing in the world of networking, and it can help to plan, design, and operate networks in a way that improves network availability and agility.
The purpose behind this technology is to add real intelligence to the network. Essentially, intent-based networking is when a network operator tells the network what service he/she wants to run and the network configures itself accordingly using an automated system. According to Gartner, an intent-based networking system has four key characteristics:
- Translation and validation – translating the commands of an operator into actions the software performs
- Automated implementation – after the operator defines the desired state of the network, the software configures the network accordingly
- Awareness of state – gathering data to constantly monitor the network
- Assurance and dynamic remediation – the software automatically maintains the desired state of the network by taking corrective measures
A good analogy would be to think of how a car runs. If the driver wants to make the car go, stop, or turn they only interact with the gas pedal, brake, and steering wheel. All of the processes regarding the engine and electronics are hidden “under the hood”. Also, all of the key metrics, such as speed and gas level, are displayed in an easy-to-read dashboard.
In order to support intent-based networking, the use of closed-loop automation is important. By continuously collecting data from across the network, automatically processing it, and ensuring that the desired state is maintained, service providers can better align processes with customer demand.
While intent-based networking is still in its early stages and build-outs are just beginning, CENX’s software is ready to support intent-based networking based on its ability to:
- Monitor service topology, state, and performance analytics in real time
- Use analytics to identify when the actual state of the network is diverging from the desired state
- Integrate with network orchestrators to automatically initiate corrective measures